LAS VEGAS -- Welcome to the Labor Day weekend edition of Saturday Scorecard, where our motto for the next few days is obvious -- So many casinos/buffets/shows/attractions... so little time.
The Badger Blast/Huddle tailgate party starts in a few hours, so let's get down to business.
Bullish on Bucky: Many college football experts think that coach Bret Bielema's fifth season could be special. The Badgers, who open the season with a non-conference game against Nevada-Las Vegas tonight at Sam Boyd Stadium (10 p.m., Versus), have plenty of experience -- particularly on offense -- and could make a run at the Big Ten title.
Wisconsin's offensive line might be the tightest, most experienced unit in the league. Tailback John Clay, a Racine Park graduate, should rack up big yards. Quarterback Scott Tolzien has a year of game action under his belt. The defense, led by Pewaukee product J.J. Watt, has some question marks but also a lot of promise.
The recipe for success is simple. The Badgers will try to run the ball and wear down their opponents. That shouldn't be a major problem tonight. The Rebels, playing their first game under new coach Bobby Hauck, enter the game as 20 1/2-point underdogs.
Hauck, who comes to the desert after a successful stint at Montana, inherited a reasonably solid offense with an inexperienced quarterback (Mike Clausen). The Rebels' defense, though, is one of the worst in the west. The group gave up an average of 221 rushing yards last year and don't seem to be able to mount a pass rush.
It's the first game. It's going to be very hot (90 degrees at kickoff). But the Badgers, backed by thousands of sunburned cheeseheads dressed in red, should make themselves right at home.
History lesson: Three years ago, the Badgers opened as a 25-point favorite at UNLV and escaped with a tense 20-13 victory.
The game that most Wisconsin fans won't forget, though, came in 2002 -- the night the lights went out.
With 7 minutes 41 seconds left and the Badgers holding a 27-7 lead, a power outage ended the game. Because the game didn't last 55 minutes, it was not considered official under Nevada gaming rules and all wagers were returned. Many Badgers fans had bet on their heroes, who were favored by a touchdown, and were rebuffed at the window when they tried to collect their winnings.
The cause of the outage remains a mystery. Police initially said that a vehicle crashed into a transformer near the stadium, but university and Nevada Power officials denied that claim. Many believe it was the work of sports books or gamblers, who stood to lose hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Almost everyone involved has a theory about what happened, but chances are we'll have to wait for the movie to come out before we really know.
Line ‘em up: Plenty of Badgers fans were miffed that the Big Ten's alignment for 2011, which put Wisconsin in a division with Ohio State, Penn State, Illinois, Indiana and Purdue.
That may not make for easy travel and it means that the Badgers won't face rival Iowa every year (they still get the Gophers because it's a "protected" game). But, it's hardly the end of the world. Getting Ohio State and Penn State each year will bolster recruiting in those talent-rich regions.
Games against Illinois, Indiana and Purdue may not look attractive now. All that matters, though, is victories. If the Badgers capitalize on their chances, they have a chance to break through to a BCS bowl game. Most fans would take that over another donnybrook with the Hawkeyes.
LARRY KING LOUNGE
Is there anything that you don't like about Lorenzo Cain?... It seems as though basketball and football players are embracing Twitter more readily than their counterparts in other sports... One way we'll know if the 2010 Badgers are ready for prime time -- they have to be better on special teams... The Admirals' new jerseys look really cool. Remember when that pirate logo was controversial?... How many Badgers fans will watch Frank Caliendo's show at the Monte Carlo this weekend?... Washington's Nyjer Morgan needs to take some anger management courses. Or else, he could be traded to the Yankees and have Derek Jeter show him how to avoid controversy... Is that Packers-Chiefs game over yet? That was a yawner... Are you glad now that the Brewers didn't sign Ben Sheets or a few other veteran pitchers who got injured?... His future just might be in the bullpen, but I hope Jeremy Jeffress gets a chance to start next season... The Bucks are starting to hoop it up at the Cousins Center. Their camp will be here before we know it... I'm wondering if the Brewers will trade Rickie Weeks for pitching help during the winter and make one more run with Prince Fielder... Frankie Edgar made things look easy, didn't he?... If you have a few hours to spare, head out to play a county golf course. This is a perfect time of year to hit the links.
Host of “The Drew Olson Show,” which airs 1-3 p.m. weekdays on The Big 902. Sidekick on “The Mike Heller Show,” airing weekdays on The Big 920 and a statewide network including stations in Madison, Appleton and Wausau. Co-author of Bill Schroeder’s “If These Walls Could Talk: Milwaukee Brewers” on Triumph Books. Co-host of “Big 12 Sports Saturday,” which airs Saturdays during football season on WISN-12. Former senior editor at OnMilwaukee.com. Former reporter at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.